TORONTO — For the first time in Toronto history, a homeowner will be charged for allegedly disabling a carbon monoxide detector — an infraction that could come with a hefty $50,000 fine and/or a year in jail.
“It is what it is,” said Samantha Nassar, who told Global News she believes Toronto Fire Services is trying to make an example out of her and her family.
On Nov. 25, firefighters were called to her home near Wareside Road and Renforth Drive in Etobicoke after reports that the occupants inside had passed out. Nassar, her husband and daughter were taken to hospital for carbon monoxide poising, along with a firefighter who was exposed to the lethal gas.
“We have reasonable and probably grounds to believe that an offence occurred,” said Jim Jessop, deputy chief of Toronto Fire Services.
Rescue officials tested the air and found readings of carbon monoxide at 900 parts per million, which is far above acceptable levels.
In December of 2013 the Ontario Fire Code was amended to require homeowners to have and maintain working carbon monoxide detectors in all homes with fuel burning appliances.
Prior to the new rule, only newly built homes had to meet this requirement. The changes came into effect last October.
“There have been too many families that have lost their lives and too many families that have been destroyed by not having smoke alarms and by not having and maintaining carbon monoxide alarms,” said Jessop.
Renters also need to be cognizant of the new rules. Tenants can be held liable and subject to the same harsh penalties if they disabled a carbon monoxide detector that is provided by their landlord.
Jessop says detectors should be checked monthly by pressing the alarm button to ensure that it sounds, and batteries should be replaced with each time change.
On average, 11 people die each year in Ontario due to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Toronto Fire Services.
Making infractions as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving and adopting a zero tolerance policy is one of the ways they plan on achieving this.